“I'VE LEARNED THAT WHETHER A SHOW HITS OR MISSES, IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY RELATIONSHIP TO THE QUALITY OF THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE IN HELPING PUT IT TOGETHER.”
TS: Sometimes Oscar's described as a megalomaniac. Do you see him that way?
PG: I think that Belasco’s fascination with detail and dedication to it certainly, in others' eyes, could easily pass for megalomania. I think all good directors are megalomaniacs—and know it. I recently realized this will be the third director I've played in a row on Broadway: Bernie Dodd in The Country Girl and Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off. Hopefully third time’s the charm! I’ve also had a few trains in my past on Broadway…hmmm.
TS: Will you talk about your understanding of the relationship between Oscar and Lily?
PG: I think it's a love story. The musical focuses on Oscar's pursuit of his own salvation and Lily's pursuit of her renewed legitimacy as an actress, which allows them to rediscover how much they've missed each other. Oscar has kept his ear to the ground and figured out a way to be in Lily’s proximity. There's a freedom and comfort they provide each other because they intimately know one another. In a way, there's nothing more important to them than being as good as they can be, and they love taking no prisoners. Of course, the relationship really depends on who is playing Lily, and because it’s Kristin, it’s wonderful.
TS: Would you say they have a symbiosis?
PG: Yes, there is give and take between them. There are some people that understand each other. Very rarely do you get a chance to revisit those wonderful feelings you have with certain people. I think in their early successful times together, they both made the mistake of thinking that they were the one who had something to do with it, instead of recognizing their good fortune. Both of them have said, “Oh, I don't need him,” or “Oh, I don't need her.” The truth is they are better together.
TS: I also wanted to ask you a little about Oscar's relationship to Oliver and Owen. Why do you think they're so loyal to him?
PG: That’s a different kind of love story. What else do you have except your relationships and your friendships? They’ve been through the wars together and survived. Why throw your lot in with someone new? When things are going well and the money's coming in and the audiences are filling the seats, everything is great. This just happens to be a time when everything's gone to shit. And it may very well be the end of Oscar Jaffee. It might be just his swan song, and nobody wants to get any of that on them—but Oscar still owes them money—and where else will they go?
TS: How do you like to collaborate with the director, musical director, and choreographer?
PG: Rehearsal might be my favorite part of the process, and these rehearsals are led by an amazing group of creative people. I have ideas about Oscar, but I’m just as interested—if not more so—in their ideas. I'm not really a dancer, so I’ve just got to work hard and hide behind our truly amazing dancers. Warren is a great choreographer and director in his own right and a really kind person, so I seriously doubt he's going to be giving me something that's going to make him or me look bad. Kevin Stites is a great music director who has
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assembled some of the finest voices on Broadway and is succeeding in teaching the rest of us this amazing score, too. I have every confidence in Scott, who is the premier director on Broadway right now. I love his work: its diversity, precision, and heart, and I couldn't have more respect for him. I'm thrilled that he wanted me to play this part. I think we'll all have to work really hard to have a lousy time.
TS: Do you have any advice for a young person who might want to be a performer?
PG: I truly believe ninety percent of life is showing up. Regardless of what you do, whether it's in show business or not, it's all about showing up. If there's anything else you can imagine doing other than going into show business, do it. If there's absolutely nothing else you can imagine doing, then you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot because you don't want to be lying on your death bed thinking, I wish I had...I shoulda...I coulda. And if you’re lucky enough to get to do what you love and can make a living at it—have fun and don’t forget that you’re one of the lucky ones.•
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